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Your First Telescope
"Take the Plunge"

Ed Ting

ScopesSo, you've decided to take the plunge and buy a telescope -- congratulations! Astronomy can be a life long pleasure, with the right equipment. But what to buy? And how do you not wind up with a room that looks like the right? There's more equipment out there than ever before. This article will attempt to make some sense out of the seemingly huge selection of scopes and accessories.

Ready? Good. Let's begin. First of all, some words of advice:

1) Learn to spot a few constellations and maybe a planet or two with the naked eye. If you can't point to M42, how do you expect to able to point a telescope (which has a much narrower field of view) there?

2) Subscribe to one of the two major magazines, Sky and Telescope or Astronomy. These will get you started not only with finding celestial objects, it will also acquaint you with the variety of equipment out there. Don't buy anything yet!

3) Join a club, or tag along on one of their observing sessions. This is the single best piece of advice I can give you. There is no substitute for spending time with real equipment out in the field. You may discover, for example, that you like the portability of Schmidt-Cassegrains, or that you enjoy the views through a good refractor, or that the big Dobsonian you saw in the catalog is much more of a handful than you imagined. Or whatever. There's no substitute for experience.

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